Mak­ing a meadow gar­den

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Planting Ideas -

Cre­at­ing a nat­u­ral­is­tic meadow that fits to­gether as a co­he­sive whole means care­fully work­ing out in ad­vance the ra­tio of dif­fer­ent plants – es­pe­cially when you’re plant­ing on a grand scale. Land­scape ar­chi­tect Peter White used a min­i­mum of 25 re­peat­ing plants per swathe of meadow, cre­at­ing a soft, im­pres­sion­is­tic feel that has a calm­ing ef­fect. “When de­sign­ing large land­scapes us­ing masses of or­na­men­tal grasses and peren­ni­als, I think about im­mer­sion in a scene of rapidly chang­ing struc­ture, colours and move­ment through­out the sea­sons,” says Peter.

Good botanical knowl­edge is also im­por­tant in cre­at­ing a suc­cess­ful tapestry of plants. Fa­mil­iar­ity with the heights and habits of each cul­ti­var, en­abled Peter to space the plants with their ma­ture height in mind. For most plants this was around 60-90cm, while for the large grasses a space of around 1.2-1.5m was left between in­di­vid­ual plants. Peter also en­sured the paths between the beds were a min­i­mum of 1.5m wide so that the paths never be­come com­pletely swal­lowed up by the swathes of grasses when the meadow be­gins to gain height and vol­ume.

To­wards the east of the house is an area where the lawn is wider and more frame-like between the beds. Here the grasses mix with small shrubs and low-grow­ing peren­ni­als cho­sen be­cause they are hardy and able to hold their own in com­pe­ti­tion with the grass roots. The flow­er­ing peren­ni­als, in colours that re­flect the hues of dis­tant woods and moun­tains, add tex­tu­ral weave to the plumes of or­na­men­tal grasses, and neatly sep­a­rate the tall grasses from the mown lawn. “The goal,” says Peter, “is to glide through the gar­den, make it loose.”

PEREN­NI­ALS NEED TO HOLD THEIR OWN IN COM­PE­TI­TION WITH THE GRASS ROOTS

82 Tall clumps of grasses, in­clud­ing‘Gracil­limus’ and low-grow­ing shrubs and peren­ni­als fill ir­reg­u­larly shaped is­land bor­ders, echo­ing both the colours and shapes of the dis­tant moun­tains sinen­sis Mis­cant­hus

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